What’s Your Workout: Sheila Cluff Ice Skates at 80

Sheila Cluff, owner of The Oaks at Oaji spa in California, shares her workout routine, which includes figure skating and weight lifting. The 80-year-old small business owner explains how a life-long dedication to fitness helped her recover from a serious injury without surgery. Photo: Jeff Clark for The Wall Street Journal

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Comment (117)

  1. I skate for 6-9 hours a week and LOVE skating more than anything, I am in middle school and have been skating since 4 years old. Honestly, i agree with everything she is saying and I loved watching this. I hope to grow up to be like her.

  2. While I'm only 48, due to fighting Crohn's disease, colon cancer, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative disc disease, since I was only 20, my bones are that of an 80 year old man…..but I don't care. Age is but a number, and the only real limitations we face are the ones we place upon ourselves. I just finished surgery #33 last December, cancer is gone, along with 95% of my GI tract, but I'm once again free, minus a few parts. I've begun weight training, and yoga, so I can get back to my passion before I got sick, cycling. I'd cycle over 100kms a day back then, and I will again. My doctors are weary, but I've learned that they only go by statistics, and being the freak I am, I never fall into those categories. I've signed up for my first cycling race since I was 19. It's only 50k, and with the thousands of competitors, my goal isn't to cross the finish line first, my goal is to prove all my doctors wrong, and finish the race intact! The future, well, nothing is written in stone, I'll take the future as it comes, but, I'll never stop trying, even if the cancer comes back. I plan on leaving this world having accomplished my goals, so it really doesn't matter at what age I leave this earth, as long as I finish this race, then I can die a happy man, knowing I gave it my all, and didn't surrender to these lousy diseases, which I never, ever will! This lady is a true inspiration to me, may she continue to skate as long as she can, and may god bless her!

  3. At age 40, I fell really hard roller skating at my son's 5th birthday party. I had tailbone issues and lower back pain on and off for 2 years after the fall. I am fearful of skating and falling again…I really love it though and my kids always want Mom to skate. I'm now 46…I will try again. Very inspirational video!

  4. It is amazing what you can do if you try to keep healthy and exercise regularly. I am also sure she spent thousands of dollars on private lessons, as all good figure skaters do.

  5. Absolutely beautiful and so healthy! I skated as a young person and stopped when I fell hard going backwards once and it scaared me, but it is just like flying!!! So FREEING, keep going and enjot whatever you are able to do.

  6. I'm 27 and I just started skating 5 weeks ago. I fall a few times almost every time, unless it's a bad day and I didn't practice hard enough.

  7. I see myself in you. I'm only 32 and just began skating in January after wanting to my whole life. Finally started because I tore my meniscus and acl last July (doing a jump squat (HIIT)) and had surgery in August. I needed to strengthen my knee again and decided to start skating. Everything you said is totally how I live my life. I'm a woman of strict habits also and exercising is a stress relief for me, so when I get on the ice, its my sanctuary. I finally get the lyric in Pink Floyd's 'Echoes'. "I am you and what I see is me."

  8. i wanted to cry. people, like my family discourages me to ice skate because it's too late already at 24 and they said that i have to be realistic in my dreams. the common norm in this world is that you finish your school, get a job then start a family. my heart often breaks as i watch the successes of ice skating stars as i also dream to be successful at a sport that i know i will love. thank you for inspiration ma'am sheila.

  9. I have bad knees from gardening and lifting super heavy buckets of rocks and bricks and pushing wheel barrels full of heavy rocks and bricks up a steep hill. I was going strong in my 40s even. Hit 50 (now 55), and everything went downhill from there.

    My orthopedic doctor suggested an MRI because my x-rays don't explain the pain, crunching, swelling, limping, even when I'm not gardening or doing any heavy lifting. Very little narrowing between the bones. My knee caps do turn outwards a bit on the x-rays, though she didn't seem too concerned about that. I even told her that sometimes when I try to stoop or squat I have to pop up quickly because I get shooting pain and can feel the scraping of bone on bone as if my knee caps are slipping. She said I could potentially have soft tissue tears that won't show up on x-rays, definitely possible, since I was abusing my knees with no help from my husband, now separating.

    I've avoided getting MRIs because I built a house and need to dig even more flower beds. Sounds stupid that I don't even want to know what's wrong, but I don't want any type of corrective surgery delaying digging flower beds right now as I'm not getting any younger and worry I may even need knee replacements and won't be allowed to dig or lift…ever. Digging these beds will take years too, and I can't even squat anymore. Too much man's work took its toll, I guess. My right knee, the shovel-kicking knee, is the one that swells and causes the most severe pain. I know I had to twist and contort my knees pushing those heavy rocks up the hill when the wheels of the wheel barrel would get stuck. I even broke the wheel barrel. I'm pretty sure I tore something, maybe my meniscus, after researching my symptoms. I wouldn't doubt I have several issues. I'm talking wincing, excruciating pain, often followed by days or even weeks of limping, especially if I squat 'wrong'.

    My attitude is to dig those beds, abuse my knees as much as I can getting things done, and THEN get those MRIs, surgery, knee replacements or whatever I need fixed…fixed. Screwed up thinking maybe, but I know knee replacements have some plastic parts, and they'll be no match for clay soil and shale. The surgeon will tell me no digging or heavy lifting. I used to enjoy gardening, but now dread it, discouraged because of the pain. I also am developing osteoporosis.

    I never skated before. Never. I was watching videos of Elena Radionova, and gosh, every time I watch these young skaters I feel like I wasted the years I could have taken up skating and had the energy and grace that I see in these young skaters. I'm having trouble dealing with the reality of aging.

    Watching videos of older skaters is inspiring, yet I'm realizing I'll never skate like a younger skater. I guess I'm just vain. I admire that this woman is courageous enough to embrace her age. I'm just not.

  10. Dear WSJ, what's your policy and procedures for sharing your YouTube content? Is it possible for me to add Chinese subtitles to share this video onto a Chinese site? This is not for any monetization purpose but purely for sharing it with my skating friends. Thanks so much!

  11. figure skating is perhaps the first sport i ever saw on tv back in 2007 where i immediately fell in love.

    i really wanted to do it but living in a tropical country where figure skating is unheard of, far from the large super malls with an ice rink, and heavy traffic, it was really inconvenient, oh and don’t forget about the expenses 😐

    i am now almost 20 and i keep thinking that it’s too late too late too late. but i’m not going to let that thought win over what i KNOW i can do.

    one day, when the time comes, i’m going to skate to my mom and i’s favorite songs and fulfill my childhood dreams. i’m doing it for my little me <33


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